A state appellate court recently issued an opinion in a Georgia dog bite lawsuit. The case required the court to discuss the availability of punitive damages in certain Georgia personal injury lawsuits.
The plaintiff was a mail carrier who suffered serious injuries after a large dog attacked her during her route. According to the court’s opinion, on the day of the accident, the plaintiff needed to deliver packages to the dog owner’s front door. As she approached the door, the dog owner’s youngest son came out of the front door to accept the packages. When the mail carrier was returning to her vehicle, she heard the young boy exclaim “no,” and saw the dog was near her leg.
The 60-pound dog bit the plaintiff’s leg, and although she was able to kick him off her leg, the dog latched onto her arm. The dog owner’s older son heard the commotion and came to help pry the dog’s jaws open, at which point the dog finally released the woman’s arm. The woman called emergency personnel, who discovered various other bites on her body. The plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the homeowner, and a jury awarded her personal injury and punitive damages. The dog owner appealed, arguing that the woman was not entitled to punitive damages.